HOW TO: Choose the Right Blogging Platform

If you have decided to start a blog for your nonprofit to help you with your online fundraising (or even if you’re just considering one) there are many popular platforms to choose from, including:

  • WordPress – The most popular blogging platform in the solar system. Offers a free and a self-hosted version. Content creation consists of Pages and Posts. Very easy to use for the novice.
  • Blogger – Free Google blogging platform, ad-supported. Very easy to use for the novice.
  • Movable Type – Commercial, education, or nonprofit licenses available. Relatively easy to use for the novice.
  • Tumblr – A mostly free microblogging platform that allows users to post text, images, videos. Generally not used as a website.Very easy to use for the novice.
  • Posterous – A mostly free microblogging platform that allows users to post text, images, videos. Generally not used as a website. Publishing blog posts can be done via email.
  • Drupal – A comprehensive open-source CMS that supports menu management, RSS-feeds, page layout customization, and system administration. Generally complicated to use for the novice.
  • Joomla – Another comprehensive open-source CMS. A very object-oriented (focus is on types of content) approach to managing a website. Generally complicated to use for the novice.

Also see this list of blogging platforms at Wikipedia.

Why do so many people love WordPress?

There are several reasons why I recommend WordPress to small- and medium-sized nonprofits, but it mostly comes down to ease of use and design flexibility. Now, one thing we do at Inbound Zombie is build websites using WordPress, so keep in mind that what I say from here on will be biased towards WordPress. 🙂

WordPress is King of the Blogging World

Over 53 million WordPress blogs dot the internet landscape, which includes about 26 million WordPress.Com blogs and 27 millions WordPress.Org blogs (a 50/50 split). Inspiring Generosity (the blog you’re reading now) is a WordPress.Org blog.

WordPress.Com vs. WordPress.Org

WordPress comes in two flavors: is the free version that’s hosted on WordPress.Com, and WordPress.Org is the self-hosted version that’s hosted on your domain (which you have hosted on a server at a hosting company).

The differences between the two are pretty straight forward:

For more details on these differences, read “ vs. – The Definitive Overview” which concludes that–for businesses (and nonprofits)–WordPress.Org is the better choice. Which is right, kind of…

Four Reasons Why WordPress.Org Might Not be a Good Choice

While most bloggers would emphatically agree that WordPress.Org is the best choice, there are a few reasons why WordPress.Com could be a better fit:

1. Personal or Indirect Use Only

If your blog is a personal blog, and you have no interest in using it to directly promote your nonprofit, then WordPress.Com would a better choice. For example, blogging about life as an ED could have an indirect impact on donations. I’ve often recommended WordPress.Com or even Posterous to busy nonprofit leaders who want to connect with constituents through blogging, but don’t have the technical resources to manage a blogging platform.

2. Not Concerned With Design

If you’re interested in starting a personal blog, and aren’t too concerned about the features and design of the blog, then WordPress.Com would be perfect. There are about 90 themes that come with WordPress.Com, so you should be able to find something that looks nice –if you’re not too picky.

3. Need A Shorter Learning Curve

WordPress.Com offers a limited set of themes and zero plugins, allowing you to focus on the essence of using WordPress: to write posts and reply to comments. And when you’re ready for WordPress.Org, you can simply import all of your content into WordPress.Org.

4. Haven’t Found Your Topic

If you start blogging about tennis one week and photography the next, any negative impact (e.g. SEO, confused readers, diluted branding) won’t be tied to your domain. WordPress.Com allows the freedom to explore a variety of topics in a low-risk, free environment.

Questions to ask yourself

Before you select a blogging platform, make sure you’ve answered the following questions:

  • Do we have the content resources to publish a blog?*
  • Do we have the technical resources to build it?
  • Are we clear about the topics we’ll be blogging about?
  • How are other similar organizations using a blog?
  • How will we manage both positive and negative comments?*

* We’ll be revisiting these questions more in-depth later in this weekly series about blogging.

What are other considerations to selecting a blogging platform?